|Welcome to Prague||10.03.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
PRAGUE — After a wonderful three days in Belfast, the Big Bad Blog is now in Prague for the week (the Bruins came, too). The team flew out at noon Belfast time and arrive just a couple hours ago, picking up one hour in the time zone change. We’re now a quarter of a day ahead of you guys, so expect to wake up each morning with a heaping plate of news ready for you. Here are some pictures from the trip from Belfast to Prague, including some of the Czech media going batty for David Krejci (from Czech) and Zdeno Chara (Slovakia).
The Bruins will be playing three games while in the Czech Republic. They’ll have an exhibition game on Tuesday in Liberec before opening the regular season at 02 Arena with a pair of games against the Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday.
|Tyler Seguin scores two as Bruins take Belfast game, 5-1||10.02.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins got some huge cheers from the Odyssey Arena Saturday night, but after the Belfast Giants took a 1-0 lead on them in the second period, the team made it clear they would end their Northern Ireland trip with more than just fanfare.
Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara, and Brad Marchand all scored over the space of a minute following the Giants’ goal, their lone tally off of Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Milan Lucic added one of his own in the third, with Seguin tacking on another on a penalty shot to give the Bruins a 5-1 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.
The game featured no fights, though Shawn Thornton, who has received plenty of attention given his mother’s return to Belfast (her place of birth) did pick up two assists for the Bruins.
From Belfast the Bruins will travel to the Czech Republic, where they will play first three games. They’ll have an exhibition game in Liberec on Oct. 5 before opening the regular season with two games against the Coyotes in Prague on Oct. 9 and 10.
|Source on Chara deal before season: ‘Not sure it is possible’||10.01.10 at 7:02 pm ET|
BELFAST — Zdeno Chara expressed on Friday his desire to stay with the Bruins beyond this season, the final one of his contract. Though Chara has said throughout the process that he would like to have a contract extension wrapped up before the regular season begins, a source familiar with the negotiations has told WEEI.com that though they are “shooting for” finishing a deal before the Oct. 9 opener against the Coyotes in Prague, they are “not sure it is possible.”
Chara is planning on playing until he is 45, something he feels he can do based on his tireless commitment to his fitness. It is unlikely that this deal will be his last, given the scrutiny placed by the league on deals that go past a player’s 40th birthday and that such a pact would be an 11-year deal. Chara understands that it might take more than one contract to get him through the rest of his career, but is hopeful that any progress made since an offseason “pause” in negotiations can eventually lead to another pact.
Chara is entering the fifth year of a five-year, $37.5 million deal signed in 2006 after beginning his career with the Islanders and Senators. He has served as captain for his entire Bruins career. In 847 career games in the NHL, the Slovakian defenseman has scored 111 goals and picked up 252 assists 363 points.
|Wide ice an overseas obstacle||at 10:04 am ET|
BELFAST — Sprints from side to side along the blue lines and center ice at the Odyssey Arena appears to be a bit more of a tiring affair than usual for the Bruins, and it’s not because of jet lag. Because the Bruins are playing in Europe, they will have to get used to European ice, which is wider and thus makes for a more offensive game.
“You have to really adjust your defensive game,” captain Zdeno Chara said Friday. “You know that the opponent has way more ice to take. You can’t be running out of your position. You’ve got to play more as far as dots on the ice. You can’t get too carries away running to the boards.
“There’s probably an extra 10 feet on each side, so there’s going to be way more room for forwards. As a defenseman, you still have to play that structure and tight defensively.”
Though the defensemen have to be much more careful to prevent a high-scoring game, David Krejci and the forwards have enjoyed how spacious playing in the offensive zone is.
“There’s so much room,” Krejci said. “We did some drills today in the corners. Back in Boston, it’s so tight, you don’t have much room. Here, you’ve got so much room and a little more time, too. It’s going to take a little more time to get used to, so you don’t have to move [the puck] too quick. You can hold it a little bit longer — not too long — but a little longer and make some smarter plays.”
As for getting used to new ice, a new time zone, and not falling apart in the process, Nathan Horton doesn’t think the team has lost any steam since arriving at around 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST).
“I think everyone felt better today,” Horton, who slept for two hours on the plane but joked that “you can’t doze off” when films such as The A-Team and the Jaden Smith remake of The Karate Kid were being shown. “I think it was a better practice overall, and I think we’re getting better every day.”
|Chara, Savard, Horton top Bruins in NHL ’11||09.07.10 at 10:22 pm ET|
Someone who hasn’t played a video game in years may not have the best perspective on this, but here goes:
WEEI.com was able to get their hands on a copy on a copy of NHL ’11, the most recent edition of the popular EA Sports hockey video game. After taking a gander at the ratings of Bruins players, Boston fans should have something to say about how their team is represented.
Overall, the team is an 88. The offense is an 87 and the defense is an 85. The goaltending gets an 89.
Here are the individual ratings. First, the skaters:
Zdeno Chara: 89
Marc Savard: 88
Nathan Horton: 84
David Krejci: 83
Milan Lucic: 83
Michael Ryder: 82
Marco Sturm: 82
|Chara feels Bruins can go ‘all the way’||at 1:24 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — It’s no surprise that the Bruins have a buzz around them that seems to grow by the day. Back-to-back Eastern Conference semifinals appearances likely will do that, and adding players the caliber of Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin can’t hurt.
That’s the type of positivity that seemed to come from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on Tuesday as he addressed the media for the first time since the team packed up following its ugly Game 7 defeat to the Flyers last season. With the conference semifinals all but wrapped up after the Bruins took a commanding 3-0 series lead, the B’s watched Philadelphia march back and take four games in a row en route to one of the biggest comebacks in the history of professional sports. It’s hard to take a lesson from such a crushing and embarrassing defeat, but Chara maintained that it helped to emphasize a basic teaching.
“It’s never won,” Chara said. “It’s never won until you win Game 4. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, like we found out. It was just a part of the history, but sometimes you’ve got to always have that in the back of your mind that it can happen.”
Though a chance at the Canadiens would have undoubtedly been a better prize than being taught a hard lesson, Chara seems to be done dwelling on the loss.
“It took a while [to get over], but you have to move on,” Chara said. “That’s just a part of the business. Obviously, you would like to be on the other side of that playoff round, but it happened and you have to learn from it and move on. Hopefully that makes us stronger for this year.”
And it seems this season is one that he’s particularly excited about with the aforementioned upgrades made to the team. The Bruins swung a deal with the Panthers for Horton before the draft and selected Seguin second overall just a few days later. They also retained their strong goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask, who led the NHL last year in GAA and save percentage, and Tim Thomas, who took home the Vezina a year before. Given the offseason, Chara is not afraid to hold his team to high expectations.
“I think that we improved again,” Chara said. “Anything can happen. Anything is possible. We have a good enough team to win all the way. There is a few that can change the direction of how the team’s going. Obviously, injuries are a big part of the success, and if we stay healthy, this team is very strong.
|Chara: ‘Of course I want to stay in Boston’||at 1:06 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Fifteen members of the Bruins took to the ice Tuesday for the team’s first captain’s practice. Players scrimmaged and partook in drills before meeting with the media. One of the more popular questions was how much longer the captain, defenseman Zdeno Chara, would be a member of the team. Chara’s contract expires after the season and negotiations haven’t reached the point of a deal being imminent. Given that Chara will likely receive a long-term contract worth big money, he said that the Ilya Kovalchuk saga may be a reason as to why the sides have waited before getting serious in talks.
“The investigations and the new rule between the NHL and NHLPA about long-term contracts kind of put everything on a pause,” Chara said. “We’ll see what happens.”
The new rule, put into place last week, prevents teams from circumventing the salary cap by tacking on extra years at minimal dollars in order to create a manageable cap hit. Getting top players under contract may be a bit trickier in regards to making both sides happy, but Chara is just glad that his camp and the Bruins know how to approach the negotiations.
“At least both sides know what the rules are, and going to into the new CBA it’s going to be very important to have these rules already set,” Chara said.
Chara added that if his negotiations on a new pact spill over into the season, he will remain focused in leading a team that he said “improved again” over the season. As a result, he wasn’t afraid to tip his hand on what he hopes will happen.
“Of course, I want to stay in Boston,” Chara said. “I want to be part of this team for, if possible, the rest of my career.”